Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in the Inuyasha universe; they belong solely to Rumiko Takahashi. I am, however, playing with them for a moment -- I hope nobody minds.
Where Have All the Chapters Gone?
By Niamh St. George
The sky was blue, cloudless. It was one of those rare pre-winter days when everything seemed alive rather than dead or dying -- rejuvenated by the cold, rather than lulled to sleep by it. Yes, the trees were still bare, the grass still brown and dry, but there was and undeniable something in the air. Call it electricity, if you will. Whatever it was, the Sengoku-Jidai was charged with it.
Some might have said that change was in the air.
The clearing by the Bone Eater's Well, typically vacant, was -- on this day -- not vacant at all. In fact, on this particular day, a woman sat on the ground, cushioned by the dead grass, an absurdly thick sheaf of papers in her lap. In her hand she held a blue editing pencil.
To the untrained eye, this woman might have seemed like another random self-insertion -- perhaps an ill-disguised Mary-Sue. She was tall, with short brown hair and brown eyes, and to anyone whose imagination spent any time at all in the Sengoku-Jidai, she would have been completely and utterly unfamiliar.
But she is no Mary-Sue. She is Niamh. And she is editing. As she flips page after page of printed text, we see garish editorial marks -- entire paragraphs cut away with a simple flick of the wrist.
"What is she editing?" some might ask
Those who know Niamh probably have a very good idea what she's working on, and it is to those people that this ficlet is directed.
Before long, the muses that reside within her imagination come around to see why their author is here. Her presence seldom means good things -- she typically remains unseen as she records the comings and goings of the borrowed characters. But today they see her, and so today they are wary.
Narrowing his eyes, Inuyasha stepped forward. "Oi, you. What're you doin' here?"
Niamh didn't look up. "Making changes," she murmured.
There was a perfect beat of silence. "Changes?" Miroku finally ventured. "What sorts of changes?"
Placing an index finger against a page to hold her place, Niamh lifted her gaze to regard her muses. "What sorts of changes?" she echoed. "Changes to the story, of course. I'm fixing it."
Miroku nodded slowly, but bewilderment still colored his gaze.
The author's expression was bland, but a spark of humor resided in her eyes. "Perhaps it's escaped your attention, focused on other tasks as you were, but we've been evicted."
Only Kagome seemed to react to this. Other than her small, dismayed gasp, Niamh was met with a sea of identically blank stares. She sighed. "Banished," she amended. We've been banished. And so, in an attempt to appeal our banishment, I'm making some unpleasant, but necessary changes to our story."
Inuyasha blinked once. "Wait, wait, wait. Whaddaya mean you're changing our story? The fuuhhhh..." His mouth snapped shut, his brows contracting in puzzlement. "What the fffuuhh... ffffff..." Frowning, he screwed up his face in concentration. "What the fffffuuuuuhh..."
Niamh nodded. "Yeah. First change, right there. No more naughty words for Yash."
"ARGH! WHAT THE FFFF---- AAAAHHHRRRRGH!"
"Now, the only invectives you're permitted to use are those of the G and PG variety," the woman informed him, turning back to her pages.
He stared at her. "What's that mean?"
"It means," Niamh began patiently, though she never looked up, "that you can say 'heck,' 'darn,' 'dagnabbit,' 'gosh,' 'golly,' 'gee,' 'fudge,' 'frell,' 'fiddlesticks,' 'shoot,' 'shucks,' 'sugar,' and the like. But no more potty mouth. I don't care how canonically correct it is."
The rest of the group didn't seem to be particularly worried; Inuyasha's colorful phraseology had often been a topic of discussion, so it wasn't as if anything important was getting--
"And no more lemons. For anybody."
A horrified silence settled on the clearing as the characters gaped at the author who looked up at the sudden hush.
Sango cleared her throat. "When you say no more--"
"I mean no more lemons. No more horizontal mambo, no more wild monkey dance of love, no more hanky panky, no more 'bamp chicka bamp bamp' -- whatever you choose to call it, I don't care. But there won't be any more." At this point, Niamh turned her attention back to the sheaf of papers. "Now, houshi-sama..."
Miroku suddenly looked very uncomfortable.
"You are hereby forbidden to grab, look at, admire, think about, or otherwise notice Sango's derriere. You're not allowed to acknowledge she has a derriere. You're not allowed to look at her below the neckline. Heck, let's just say you're not allowed to recognize the fact that she's female at all."
There was a faint movement in the monk's throat as he swallowed. "Right." And at that point, he promised himself that at the first opportunity, he was going to rip away the gauntlet and rosary and let the Kazaana suck him in, because with stipulations like those, life was simply not worth living.
"Because," Niamh continued, "APPARENTLY we've had a small problem with characters having 'teh sex' with what can be considered 'alarming frequency' in a 'fic."
Teles blinked. "Did you say... 'alarming frequency'?" At Niamh's nod, the once-goddess looked even more bemused. "Twice is alarming?"
"Right. Very naughty and bad. Both of you."
Sesshoumaru stepped forward, placing an arm around the former goddess. "And I suppose I should have been able to resist temptation when my mate asked me to help her dress after several weeks of not touching her?"
Once again, Niamh consulted the enormous sheaf of papers. "Mmmm, yeah. Pretty much. No inappropriate touching. Because, after all, think of the children, despite the fact that the story was rated 'R' and no one under the age of seventeen should have been reading it without a parent or guardian -- at least according to the standards set by the Motion Picture Association."
Kagome sat on the ground, hands in her lap. Her fingers worked at each other nervously. "Um... wait, does that mean...."
The author regarded her muse. "Yes, Kagome? Did you have a question?"
"Yes. Does this mean that... Well, that Inuyasha and I... we only got to kiss a few times... do we have to stop that?"
There was a heavy silence as Niamh examined her manuscript. "Hmmm. Not exactly, but we're going to have to take out all of the 'deep' kissing, I'm afraid."
The young priestess looked somewhat crestfallen. "....Oh."
There was a light rustling as Niamh flipped through the pages in her immense tome. "Sooo, let's see. No more swearing for Inuyasha, no more ... thoughts unbecoming a holy man for Miroku, no more of 'teh sex' for Sesshoumaru and Teles, regardless of the fact that they are clearly well above the age of consent and are engaged in a consensual, monogamous, adult relationship."
Kagome cringed. "I'm beginning not to like this."
Miroku sent his friend an incredulous gaze. "You're beginning not to like this?"
"Hey, we've got to do what we've got to do. Someone else apparently didn't like the way it was." Niamh shrugged. "So we got banished."
The monk sighed. "And we were trying so hard to behave."
"Some of us harder than others," Sesshoumaru riposted dryly.
"Sesshoumaru," Niamh barked sternly. "Innuendoes of that nature are no longer permitted."
"That was not an innuendo," the youkai lord replied blandly.
"It doesn't matter whether you say it is or not; it could be construed as such by a reader. In which case, said reader would be well within his or her rights to report the story as offensive."
Sesshoumaru inclined his head regally. "Surely, then, even a human could see--"
"Well, of course," Niamh interrupted, much to the taiyoukai's ire. "A human could see. But I'm not completely sure there was a human around to check it."
Tilting his head in almost predatory curiosity, Sesshoumaru regarded the author. "So we were banished simply because someone... requested it?"
"That's about the long and short of it," Niamh replied.
Sango sighed and knelt on the ground, bracing her hands against her thighs. "I still don't understand why we were banished. And we didn't even get any warning -- even warlords tell you when you're about to be banished. Don't you think that's a little... excessive?"
Heaving a sigh, Niamh looked down at the manuscript, the once-pristine pages now littered with editorial marks. "It doesn't matter whether I think it's excessive. I rated the story 'R'. According to the Motion Picture Association, an R rating means there may be 'hard language, or tough violence, or nudity within sensual scenes, or drug abuse or other elements, or a combination of some of the above.' As far as I'm concerned -- and as far as a lot of other people are concerned -- OGAM fell well within that rating."
The taiji-ya's puzzled frown did not fade. "But why--"
"Because, out of 45 chapters spanning approximately (or above) 600 pages, a total of about twenty pages consisted of two characters (who were involved in a monogamous, adult relationship) participating in sensual, adult activities, also known as 'teh sex.'"
Sango blinked, deflating. "...Oh."
The muses around Niamh were exhibiting responses varying from annoyance (Inuyasha) to fear (Miroku), and not a small bit of disappointment (Sango and Kagome). The author felt a pang of guilt for doing this to her cast, particularly after they'd been more or less compliant. There had only been a few bouts of writer's block, after all. And, okay, one of them lasted for a few months, but then there was sake and negotiations and all was well once again.
But Niamh knew the importance of having happy muses. Pursing her lips, she took a deep breath. When she spoke, there was a hearty amount of optimism and brightness injected into her tone. "So! OGAM will be undergoing a rewrite. No more swearing, no more sex, no more sly innuendoes, no more violence..."
Inuyasha's eyes bugged. "...No more violence?"
"Right," Niamh replied, stretching her legs out on the cold earth. "Now you and Sesshoumaru will have to settle your differences by throwing fuzzy bunnies at each other. But you must throw them gently. All we need is the SPCA breathing down our necks."
The silence that followed was nearly deafening.
The hanyou's amber eyes blinked once, then twice, and then a third time. "...Bunnies."
Sesshoumaru's reaction was more verbose. "I would not resort to throwing RABBITS. What exactly do you take me for?"
"Rabbits or no, you'll have to think of a nonviolent way to resolve your differences," the author muttered, turning her attention back to the sheaf of papers.
The youkai lord's reply was ground out through clenched jaw. "That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard."
"Most ridiculous?" Niamh countered, looking up and arching an eyebrow. "We get banished and you're complaining about the rabbits? We also have here a complaint from PETAW -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Ancient Wells -- about your rampant vandalism, Sesshoumaru-sama, and you're saying the RABBITS are ridiculous? Have you not been listening?"
The soft sound of a throat clearing came from the other side of the group. When Niamh looked up, she saw Kagome raising her hand shyly. "I have another question."
The author blew out a breath, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Yes, Kagome-chan?"
"Does osu..." She stopped suddenly, casting an apologetic eye at Inuyasha. "Does subduing Inuyasha count as violence?"
Niamh considered this for a moment as she flipped through the pages in her lap. "Mmmmmm... yep. Sits are too violent. You never know when some crazy kid is going to try it at home."
"Well, that's one thing you can be grateful for, Inuyasha," Miroku interjected sunnily.
Sighing, Niamh leaned back against the earth, propping herself up on an elbow. "Listen, I know it's a huge pain in the keister, but if we even want to think about appealing to have our banishment lifted, these are the changes we're going to have to make. Life is all about sacrifices, right?"
The young taiji-ya cleared her throat. "...I have a question."
Sango frowned a bit and tilted her head in thought. "Well, you said these were the changes that would have to go through if we wanted to appeal for our banishment to be lifted, right?"
"Well, is it... so bad, being banished? We have other places to stay, don't we?"
"Oh, absolutely," Niamh replied, nodding. "Yeah, we've got other homes. Mediaminer, for instance, and the Green Tea site as well as Sphere of Silence. So, yes, certain other archives aside, we do have other places to hang our proverbial and fictional hats." Niamh looked back down at her lap, but her manuscript was gone. When she looked up again, she saw Teles flipping through the document, frowning.
"Well, it seems that our course of action is decided upon. Because I, for one, have no interest in re-enacting all of these scenes," the former goddess stated, shaking her head slowly.
Niamh sighed. "And, quite frankly, I don't feel like rewriting them."
"I still do not understand what these humans objected to," Sesshoumaru said, folding his arms in his sleeves and glowering. "Were the warnings not sufficient? I understand that there are ideas pups should not be exposed to until they are sufficiently old enough, but if you let the pup play near a patch of poison ivy, when he catches poison ivy, it's not the ivy's fault."
"I don't make the rules, Sesshoumaru-sama," the author replied, shrugging. "I just try to play by them. Apparently someone decided that I wasn't playing by them well enough."
"Well that's easily remedied," Teles said with a regal toss of the head. She turned to the youkai lord. "Beloved -- dispatch the troublesome individual."
Pursing her lips, Niamh shook her head. "Um, that... probably isn't a very good idea."
The former goddess blinked blankly. "Why not?"
"There're new rules, remember? No more violence?" Inuyasha drawled, curling his lip in disgust.
"Well, I think we can solve this very easily," Sango replied, standing and brushing the grass from her yukata. "Let's have a show of hands -- who wants to rewrite and appeal to have our banishment lifted?"
Niamh made an impressed face. "....Well. Here I thought you'd all want to stay at the archive where you had the most reviews."
"Didn't they delete all of them?" Miroku asked curiously.
The author sighed. "Yeah, pretty much."
"Well, then," the young monk said, smiling a bit, "we have nothing to stay for."
Slowly the seated muses began getting to their feet. Niamh joined them.
As she stood and stretched, Kagome groaned. "I just can't believe all that hard work..."
Teles nodded. "All that revision."
"All that acting," Miroku added, rubbing his forehead.
Sango nodded in agreement. "All those tossed scenes."
Inuyasha's arms went deep into his sleeves. "All that effort."
"All of that plot," Sesshoumaru murmured, shaking his head slowly.
"And character development," Teles added, nodding.
The taiyoukai nodded as well. "Only to have some fool decide NOW that we had overstepped boundaries."
Inuyasha made a disgusted noise. "Yeah -- how long ago'd you put this thing up?"
Niamh's expression grew thoughtful. "Oh, we were up for... about 14 months."
There was a brief beat of silence. After a moment, Teles tilted her head. "But... I'm sorry, I don't think I understand. The last scene that could have been construed as problematic was chapter 31. But you just posted chapter 45."
"Precisely what I was about to bring up," Sesshoumaru muttered, arching a brow.
Miroku turned and looked at the author, violet eyes wide with disbelief. "Wait, you're telling me we got kicked out for something that happened fourteen chapters ago?"
Niamh nodded. "In October, 2003, to be exact. That's when Chapter 31 was posted."
"But we wrote two versions of that one!" the former goddess exclaimed. "I remember! One of them was boring!" Behind her, Sesshoumaru smirked a little, before schooling his features into a neutral expression.
"Well," Sango said, folding her arms decisively, "I say there's no point in staying where we're not wanted."
The young houshi nodded sagely. "If I've learned one thing in my life, it's never to overstay your welcome. I figured out a long time ago when I needed to leave a village with swift expedience."
"Yeah, we can't get into what would've made you leave a village with swift expedience," Niamh added conversationally. "Ratings, you know." But the monk maintained his guileless facade. "Okay then," the author said, taking the manuscript from Teles' hands. "All the muses are in agreement? No rewriting, no reshooting scenes -- we just go on as we were, happily posting away at Mediaminer, Green Tea, and Sphere of Silence?"
The muses were all in agreement.
And so, "Of Gods and Monsters" was forever stripped from that certain archive, which shall remain nameless. Niamh was free from having to format a chapter specifically FOR that archive, and she no longer had to worry about whether a certain scene was "appropriate" or not.
The story does live on, however, and will someday be finished.
Just not here.
A/N: Thanks to EVERYONE who was reading "Of Gods and Monsters," and thank you to everyone who reviewed on it. I wanted to find a way to let people know why it wasn't here, and where it was in case you wanted to keep reading. So, if you want to find it on Mediaminer, it's there, or you can follow the homepage link in my bio. It's also at Kat Morning's site, "Sphere of Silence," which you can access through her FFN bio page. The story has not been abandoned -- just moved.
And thanks to Everstar for helping with this parody -- it was therapeutic.